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12/4/11

Ollanta Humala declares 60 day state of emergency in Cajamarca

Tonight Ollanta Humala appeared on TV in his first official type live address to the nation type TV thing. After his Prime Minister Salomon Lerner and a few of the ministerial gang spent nine hours in meetings in Cajamarca (trying to reach some sort of negotiated agreement with the local anti-mining protesters who've been rocking the city of Cajamarca for the last 11 days against the development of Yanacocha's Minas Conga project) and getting precisely nowhere, Humala went on teevee to declare a 60 day state of emergency in the four affected provinces of the region (that include the city and the Conga site).

A State Of Emergency sounds dramatic. What it has in theory is power to suspend four constitutional rights, those of freedom of transit, meeting, personal liberty and right of protection in personal property, but in practice these things are rarely applied. Instead, Humala is using this strategy to re-open blocked roads (potentially using the military as well as police) and making sure that enough forces of order are on the streets to allow shops, schools etc to open. 

The most interesting thing was his appearance on TV to declare this, as he didn't mince his words and made it pretty clear that 1) he's pissed that the protesters didn't have the slightest intention of making any sort of conciliatory moves during the meetings with PM Lerner today and that 2) he's an ex-army guy and he's not going to back down and go wimp at this point. So chances are that we get a few heads banged together in and around Cajamarca even though I hope that violence is minimal (preferably zero). Even so, Humala hasn't been hesitant to play hardball tonight and a potential marker has been laid down for the rest of his presidency. Let's see what the next few days brings.

Finally, a message to subscribers: The thoughts as per IKN135 today on this subject are still totally valid.

UPDATE: Watch a recording of his brief address here.